Why An Assault Charge May Be Classified As A Felony

Posted on: 30 September 2016

A charge of assault can either be a misdemeanor or felony. Since felonies attract harsher penalties than misdemeanors, it's in your best interest to know the differences between the two classes of criminal charges. This will help you in your fight to get your charges downgraded. Here are some of the three common factors that make an assault charge a felony:

The Victim

Some professionals enjoy special protection by law, and any assault against them is classed as a felony. Most of the protected professionals are those employed by the government, such as police officers and firefighters. There may be a few conditions that an assault has to meet for it to be considered an automatic felony. For example, Ohio will charge you with a felony if you assault a police officer who is performing their duty if you knew that the victim is a police officer.

Therefore, to get an assault against a police officer downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor, you need to prove either that they were not performing their normal duties or that you didn't know they were a police officer. For example, if the assault occurred at a bar while the victim was off duty and wearing civilian attire, you may succeed in downgrading the charge.

The Weapon

Apart from the status of the victim, the authorities will also consider whether or not you used a weapon, and what type of weapon it was. This is necessary because assault with a "deadly weapon" is a felony. In this context, a deadly weapon doesn't have to be an explosive, gun, or knife; it refers to anything that can cause severe injury or death. Therefore, a golf club can be classified as a deadly weapon since you can easily kill a person when you hit them over the head with the club. Your main defense here is to prove that the weapon wasn't "deadly." Expect the prosecutor to put up a spirited defense here, and you may need an expert witness to prove your case.

The Intent

The intent of the perpetrator is another factor courts usually consider. You are likely to be charged with a felony if you intended to cause serious injury to the victim. This may be the case even if the victim wasn't as severely injured as you intended. For example, the prosecution may charge you with a felony if it is convinced you wanted to crack the victim's head with a machete, but only managed to graze their skin. Your main defense here is to prove that you had no such intentions.

For more information and advice, contact a felony defense attorney.